Sunday, May 8, 2011

an elaboration of the previous post

George Herbert's "Easter Wings" was the subject of a term paper last semester, and personally the ideas behind it have kept me from crashing to the ground in the last month or so. It's oriented to appear as two sets of wings that depict divine ascension, but in order to easily read it, the poem must be placed on its side and then it paradoxically resembles two finite and earthly hourglasses. The combination of visual and textual symbols somehow still manage to make me shiver. The following is the conclusion to my term paper:
In summation, through means of contradictory imagery and shape, the reader is led on a sequential journey similar to the Christian’s experience. Upon first approaching the poem with the lines oriented vertically the reader sees wings, and, as they begin to read, the lines draw the eye from top to bottom in a descending manner that detracts from the divine graphic. Eventually the reader must turn the page to orient the lines horizontally and the fall is complete, the wings are destroyed, and the timed trial begins. Through contraction and expansion the speaker is made “poore” and “thinne”, but fortunately as all worldly “wealth and store” is taken away by “sickness and shame,” his fall will amount to flight as his life is impossibly imped on to the only thing that remains – the wing of Christ. As the reader concludes the read and restores the orientation to its vertical layout, the wings reappear, and two divine figures (one for the reader and one for Christ) ascend for heaven. What was once a tragic fall grace has paradoxically become divinely-facilitated flight.

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